The U.S. birth rate is bouncing back from the pandemic


When the pandemic hit, orders to stay home did not give more babies to American families, but generated a “baby bust.” Now, economists have discovered that the so-called crisis is recovering as quickly as the economy has rebounded.

Recessions and declining birth rates go hand in hand with history, as seen with the financial crisis of 2008 and the flu of 1918, when the pandemic began in early 2020. Similarly, economists went predict that a sharp decline in household employment and spending will lead to a fall in conception rates.

Job cuts and business closures resulted in 62,000 “missing births” in the United States from January 2020 to May 2020, the document found. The lowest drop in the approximate number of conceptions occurred in April, when the country recorded the highest unemployment rate of the COVID-19 era at 14.7%.

But the “baby bust” was short-lived due to a rise of 51,000 conceptions later in 2020, driven by the rapid growth of the labor market and the arrival of government relief programs to individuals and households.

Kearney and Levine

The document, which was distributed this week by the National Bureau of Economic Research, used five years of monthly birth data from October 2016 to September 2021, the most recent month available when researchers conducted its analysis.

The research was co-authored by Melissa Schettini, a professor of economics at the University of Maryland, and Phillip Levine, a professor of economics at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. They calculated birth rates using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The rapid recovery in birth rates was unexpected, Kearney said. Along with lower-than-expected poverty rates, the relatively sudden rise in the birth rate can be seen as an indicator of the government’s strong response to the economic situation. “People didn’t suffer as much because the government acted quickly,” he said.

The immediate fall in the U.S. conception rate at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak was part of a larger global trend for higher-income countries. Arnstein Aassve, a professor of social and political science at Bocconi University, found that seven of the 22 highest-income countries experienced a sharp decline in birth rates at the start of the pandemic.

He attributed the explanation to a sense of uncertainty. “You may not give up motherhood altogether, but at least you could postpone it until you see that times are a little better,” Aassve told Scientific American. He also attributed the feeling to the ignorance of people with a new illness at the time.

Kearney said the NBER findings confirm this pattern. Comparing data from different states, he noted that while the number of COVID-19 cases in the region also contributed to the reduction in birth rates in the early days of the pandemic, people began to have more babies. at the end of the year, regardless of the number of new ones. Cases of covid19.

However, Levine said the changes in 2020 are “much less significant” compared to the general trend in the United States over the past 15 years, which translates into a drop of about 20% in births. Falling birth rates indicate a challenge for labor supply.

An earlier article by both authors found that highly educated women in their late thirties and early forties were most likely to delay contraception in the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak. Many of them probably already had children at the beginning of the pandemic. However, as detailed year-round data are not yet available, the authors did not predict which demographics had more babies when the “baby bust” was over.



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